The Maserati Ghibli Is An Almost Incomparably Comfortable Italian GT Experience
Photography by Will Broadhead
There are a lot of issues in the UK that warrant a sigh at the moment, but as someone who uses the Queens highways on a regular basis, particularly when on two wheels, the state of the roads is a constant bugbear of mine. In fact, no further than 10 yards from my house there are a series of potholes that would happily swallow a Fiat 500 or a Mini by the looks of it. There must however be a classic car that suits the unpredictable and undulating landscape of England’s more imperfect roads, and I think I may have found it, but it isn’t what you might expect…
The original Maserati Ghibli is not a common contender for tackling rugged surfaces, but this Italian grand tourer is both a comfortable and stylish solution, if you’ve the budget for it.
Just recently, myself and my good friend Ben Stinson of the Classic Motor Hub, had an opportunity to take a stunning 1972 example of the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed car out for an impromptu test drive during one of winter’s balmier days. We set off for the narrow and challenging backroads of the Cotswolds and were pleasantly surprised to find that the bumps and burrows of our usual test route didn’t bother the big Ghibli in the least. Indeed, so smooth and planted was the ride, one could easily have forgotten that we were driving in a Maserati at all, let alone a 45-year-old one.
Or at least we could have forgotten if we had been traveling with eyes shut, for the tobacco hide cockpit of the Ghibli provides occupants of the cabin with a visual reminder of what kind of coach they’re riding in, as well as a comfortable place to sit, thanks in no small part to massive amounts of leg room.
Of course, not all will find the internals easy on the eye (those switches for instance…), but for me even the less pretty parts point heavily to the era the car is from, and I mean that in the best way possible. The roar of the 306bhp V8 is also a dead giveaway to what you are in control of, and the automatic box—I know—points to this car as having the special order, three-speed auto option that was offered as a factory extra.
This car will reportedly do 0-60 in 6.8 seconds, and the 4.7 liters shared among the eight cylinders do a fabulous job of pulling the machine along when asked, and the combination of comfort and speed makes it easy to imagine touring through the mountain roads of Provence, or along the magical Amalfi coastline.
Unfortunately, all dreams of Southern Italy must be forgotten, as we haul along the highroads of the Cotswolds, and as pretty as it is, it isn’t quite the same. The Maserati looks great in any environment though and as we pull into the picture postcard village of Bourton on the Water, the stir the Ghibli causes as we pull up for some photo opportunities suggests that we aren’t alone in being captivated by the lines of the Ghibli.
How could you not be? With the low-slung body and shark nose protruding from the cockpit, its tip hanging menacingly over the front wheels, it is a fabulous piece of design, from front to fastback. The proportions are totally on the money and are obviously from the magical pen of Giugiaro, with echoes of his other works such as the Iso Grifo and De Tomaso Mangusta.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and after finally clearing the seemingly constant queue of admirers long enough to shoot a few frames, it was time to take the car back to base. On the return journey I was left to ponder if there was anything that I didn’t like about the Ghibli, and I had to come to the conclusion that although there are plenty I’d prefer before it, there really wasn’t anything I could fault this one ofr. Beautiful lines, a stunning interior, power when you want it, and supremely comfortable driving. Rather than analyzing what it is and isn’t, it’s better to just sit back and enjoy the ride, which on chewed up English roads is an all too rare event, but one the Maserati Ghibli pulls off with consummate regardless of the pothole count.